Today we visited the Black Country Living Museum. I was very excited to visit here today because I had heard that a few scenes of Peaky Blinders were filmed here and I love Tommy Shelby. When we first got to the museum I don’t know what I was expecting it to look like but it was very different than I anticipated. The museum is more like a small town with many buildings that are sites of important industrial landmarks and other old timey stores like Preedy & Sons Tobacconists and Humphrey Brothers Builders’ Merchants.. I was able to see the first steam engine, a chain being made, 1930s domestic rooms, St. James’ School, the Workers’ Institute, and the boat duck.
The Workers’ Institute was built by architect Albert Thomas Butler in the arts & crafts style as he enjoyed simple buildings and traditional craftsmanship and it was funded by the money left over from the strike of the women chainmakers. The building was the center of the working class community, and was used for a number of reasons including the presence of a trade union as well as the setting for many social activities and educational classes.
The first place I visited that I found really interesting was the racecourse colliery. It represented a standard Black Country mine from the 1900s . Men would open these pits by renting them from the Earl of Dudley, or whoever the owner of the mineral rights were, which would give them the right to mine some acres of land to find any minerals that lay underneath the ground.
The next place was actually my favorite. It was a room filled with issues of working women and issues associated with this. Upon waking in I saw on the poster collage the words “Mary Macarthur & the Women Chainmakers’ Strike.” Mary Macarthur was a Scottish suffragist, as well as the general secretary of the Women’s Trade Union League. She was also a leading trades unionist and was involved in the formation of the National Federation of Women Workers. The way that the room was set up was very interesting because you could see not only the pictures of the women involved in working but also the many news articles concerning this issue that were in many newspapers. I also learned from this room that in 1897 the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was founded, in 1902 Mary Macarthur was elected the first female representative on the Shop Assistant Union’s National Executive Committee, and that in 1906 the National Federation of Women Workers was established.
Another part of this excursion I enjoyed was the old times cinema. I learned that bench seats were about 5 pennies and nicer theater seats could be purchased for about 10pennies. In the cinema we watched a funny short film, about 20 minutes, that was a silent movie. These were extremely popular during the time and the cinema resulted in lots of revenue for the owner however when the release of speaking films came out, he lost most of his business and was forced to shut the cinema down as he didn’t have the tools to support the evolving movie scene.
One of the last places I really enjoyed on my trip was T. Cook’s Sweet Shop. It was such a cute little bakery and the sweets were both adorable and delicious. I tried the Victorian cake, brownie, and lemon drizzle and everything was amazing, especially the Victorian cake.
And of course my favorite part of visiting this museum was being able to go to the gift shop and buy a peaky blinders hat and t-shirt!